The politics of co-production: participation, power, and transformation

Esther Turnhout, Tamara Metze, Carina Wyborn, Nicole Klenk, Elena Louder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

440 Citations (Scopus)


Literature on co-production is booming. Yet, most literature is aspirational and methodological in nature, focusing on why co-production is important for environmental governance and knowledge production and how it should be done, and does not address the question why these processes often fail to achieve stated objectives of empowerment and societal transformation. In this review, we address this gap by reviewing literature on the political and power dimensions of co-production. Our review shows how depoliticization dynamics in co-production reinforce rather than mitigate existing unequal power relations and how they prevent wider societal transformation from taking place. Drawing on literature about participation, deliberative governance, and democracy, the review concludes by emphasizing the importance of (re)politicizing co-production by allowing for pluralism and for the contestation of knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


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